Just one year into the 17th Congress, Sen. Bam Aquino worked for the passage of two important measures that are just waiting for President Duterte’s signature to become a law.
The measure providing free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs) was passed unanimously by the Senate during Sen. Bam’s short stint as chairman of the Committee on Education.
Sen. Bam also spearheaded the passage of the measure providing Filipinos free internet access in public places as chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.
“Kapag naisabatas, napakalaki ang maitutulong ng panukalang ito upang mabigyan ang mas maraming Pilipino ng pagkakataong makatapos ng kolehiyo,” said Sen. Bam, referring to the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which he principally sponsored and co-authored.
As principal sponsor, Sen. Bam defended the measure in plenary debates and interpellation. He also stood as co-chairman of the Senate delegation to the bicameral conference committee, together with new Committee on Education chairman Sen. Francis Escudero. Other members of the Senate panel are Sens. Sherwin Gatchalian and Ralph Recto.
If approved, it will institutionalize free tuition and other fees in SUCs and LUCs all over the country, giving underprivileged students a chance to earn a college degree.
It will also streamline and strengthen all Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAP), making it available to students who want to pursue higher education in private institutions, as well as subsidizing other expenses of SUC students.
The senator added that the Free Internet in Public Places Act will empower Filipinos with internet access to education, information, jobs and business once enacted into law.
“We hope that this can be a step towards improving internet services in the Philippines, which, of course has become a main point for many of our countrymen,” said Sen. Bam, also the principal sponsor and co-author of the measure.
If signed into law by President Duterte, it will provide internet access in all national and local government offices, public schools, public transport terminals, public hospitals and public libraries.
Under the measure, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be mandated to craft a plan and a timeline for the rollout of this program.